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Colts, Burris Reach $20M Deal

February 19, 1998

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Free agent cornerback Jeff Burris signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, who made him one of the highest-paid defensive backs in the NFL.

Burris, a 1994 first-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills (27th overall), agreed to a $20 million, five-year contract, according to several reports. The deal included a $5 million signing bonus.

The former All-American from Notre Dame earned $647,500 last season with Buffalo. His new contract would pay him $4 million a year.

Deion Sanders of the Dallas Cowboys earns $5 million annually, and Doug Evans signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday. Former Colt Ray Buchanan, now with Atlanta, earns a comparable amount.

The 6-foot, 204-pound Burris said he was looking forward to being part of the Colts’ rebuilding process, which already includes the hiring of new president Bill Polian, new head coach Jim Mora, and the trading of quarterback Jim Harbaugh to Baltimore following a lackluster 3-13 season.

``This team is destined for success, and I want to be a part of that,″ Burris said. ``I want to be a part of a legacy starting, and I think we have a chance for that.″

During a four-year stay with the Bills, Burris established himself as a solid cover corner and a skilled punt returner. He started 38 of the 54 games he played in Buffalo. He missed seven games with a knee injury in 1995.

Burris has six career interceptions and is the Bills’ career leader in punt returns (100) and return yardage (1,045).

Burris came to Buffalo just one year after Polian left his position as general manager of the Bills to join the front office of the then-expansion Panthers.

Polian helped build the Buffalo teams that won four straight AFC championships from 1990-93. The Panthers made the NFC title game in their second season.

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